A BLOG DEDICATED TO MY LOVE OF THE SILVER SCREEN
Established May 2010.


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-STAND BY ME

Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Movie Reviews: Source Code, Hop, Cedar Rapids

The last time Ryan and I went to the movie theater was for the AMC Best Picture Showcase on February 26th. It seems odd that I didn't go anytime in March. Maybe I'm forgetting a movie. This weekend we managed to see three movies. I feel like Roger Ebert having to now reflect on what I saw and put it into words. We saw three very different movies. First up was Source Code with Jake Gyllenhaal on Saturday. Sunday brought animated Russell Brand in Hop and Cedar Rapids with The Office's Ed Helms.

SOURCE CODE
Director: Duncan Jones (Moon)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain, Donnie Darko), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Departed)


Colter Stephens (Gyllenhaal) awakes suddenly on a Chicago train without recollection of how he got there. Christina Warren (Michelle Monohan) is sitting across from him, talking to him, and referring to him as Sean Fentress. As Colter enters the bathroom to collect himself, he sees that his reflection is not his own. He opens his wallet and finds the ID of Sean Fentress. After eight minutes, the train explodes and Colter gets sucked back into his pod. Colleen Goodwin (Farmiga) appears on a screen and explains that Colter is part of an experimental program to go back in time in the body of passenger Sean Fentress to catch the bomber. A second bomb is going to go off if Colter doesn't find the bomber in time. Each time Colter goes back in time to the train, he has eight minutes to figure out what happens and change the timeline of the events.



Source Code
is a mix of science fiction and action thriller. Duncan Jones creates a fast-paced ride as Colter tries to alter reality and the timeline of events. Movies that keep going back in time can get long and drawn out depending on how many times the main character is forced to go back. Fortunately for the viewer, Source Code does not bore the audience with unnecessary repeat occurences of the eight minutes. Jake Gyllenhaal gives another fully invested performance. He's had a string of mediocre movies lately, so it's nice to see him back to good work. The only fault I have with the movie is the ending. I think it could have ended in a different place than it's current ending. I'm not really giving anything away, but if you see it you'll know what I'm talking about.

Rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)


HOP
Starring: James Marsden (The Notebook, X-Men trilogy), Russell Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Arthur)



Hop is part animation and part live action. E.B. (the voice of Russell Brand) is the heir of the Easter Bunny throne. His dad (voice of Hugh Laurie) is about the step down and E.B. is next in line. E.B. does not want these responsibilites yet. He is not ready to fully grow up. He would rather become a famous drummer. On the day of his anointing, E.B. escapes Easter Island and heads towards Hollywood to make it famous. E.B. lands in Hollywood and picks up a Star Map to figure out where to go. He tries the Playboy Mansion since it is home to "sexy bunnies", but gets rejected before the gate even opens. While slacker Fred O'Hare (Marsden) is driving to the mansion he is house sitting for, he almost runs over E.B. He reluctantly takes in E.B. Chaos insues as E.B. trashes the mansion and is on the run from the Pink Berets. The Pink Berets are the bunnies sent to find him.

Hop is neither funny nor engaging. The story really doesn't go anywhere until the ending which causes for very slow pacing. I think the creators thought they had a funny premise but then couldn't figure out how to end it or where to take the story. There were plenty of kids in the theater when we saw it, but I didn't hear many of them laughing. There are plenty of celebrity cameos in the movie as well, so it baffles me on why they chose to be a part of the movie.

Rating: ** (2 out of 5 stars)

CEDAR RAPIDS
Director: Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt, The Good Girl)
Starring: Ed Helms (The Hangover, The Office), John C. Reilly (Boogie Nights, Magnolia)


Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) is a simple and naive man. He works for Brown Star Insurance, has a girlfriend (Sigourney Weaver), doesn't drink, and thinks life is just grand. After learning that his co-worker has accidentally strangled himself, he is sent to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for an insurance convention. Blue State has won the Two Diamonds Award the last two years, so Tim Lippe must make a great impression and win the award again. Things don't quite go to plan once he meets up with three insurance veterans (Anne Heche, John C. Reilly, Isiah Whitlock Jr.) Crazy antics follow as Tim's morals come into question. He finds out some disappointing truths about his company and his girlfriend causing him to question his life choices and what will happen when he leaves Cedar Rapids.




Cedar Rapids is what I like to call a "smart comedy". It starts off with a smart script and honest acting. Ed Helms is wonderful and endearing as Lippe. You ride his roller coaster of emotions with him. John C. Reilly has been playing a lot of comedy roles lately. I prefer him in more dramatic roles like his Paul Thomas Anderson movies. However, his choices as an obnoxious salesman are more toned down than I expected out of him. I thought he was funny, but not over the top.

Rating: **** 4 out of 5 stars



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5 comments:

  1. I appreciate your movie blog. I often thought about doing one but was overwhelmed by all the ones already out there. You give a good take on things. Thanks...

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  2. Thanks Keith! I appreciate any and all feedback.

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  3. Very nice perspective. Enjoyable. I like your take on things.

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  4. Thank you for saving me from Hop. Shannon really wants to see this one and I like Marsden, but that is about it.

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